Occupational Therapy, M.S.

Occupational Therapy, M.S.


In response to the growing demand for health care professionals both regionally and nationally, the College of Health Sciences at Point Loma Nazarene University is working to offer a new graduate-level master’s in occupational therapy program.

Through the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), PLNU has applied for a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT), which — if granted candidacy status — will launch its first graduate cohort in August 2023 (pending WASC and ACOTE approval).

The Occupational Therapy Profession

Occupational therapists (OTs) enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent — or live better with — injury, illness, or disability. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA, 2018), “As an inclusive profession, occupational therapy maximizes health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living.” 

As health care professionals, OTs specialize in restoring clients’ abilities to engage in instrumental activities of daily living, i.e., work, play, education, leisure, rest, social participation, and financial and home management skills. OTs work in various settings including pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, neurology, physical rehabilitation, mental health, and in school systems. 

PLNU Program Highlights

Students in the occupational therapy program at PLNU can expect a hands-on, evidence-based master’s curriculum that prepares you to improve the health and wellness of others. Students will connect with fellow healthcare professionals and clients, as well as serve within a variety of academic, clinical, and community settings.

OT students can also expect: 

  • A dynamic, interdisciplinary learning environment made up of fellow healthcare graduate students (i.e. physician assistant, athletic training/sports medicine, integrative wellness, kinesiology, dietetics students), emphasizing integrated and holistic care.
  • Mentorship from renowned faculty with extensive clinical, research, and industry experience who are passionate about engaging students in evidence-based practice.
  • Training in technologically advanced simulation and skills labs to help prepare you to serve with the highest quality of care.
  • Emphasis on individuals’ and populations’ various occupational needs.
  • Focus on community-based and emerging practice areas for underserved populations.
  • Robust fieldwork experience as you prepare to serve the community as an expression of your faith and calling.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the breakdown of occupational therapy practice is as follows:

  • Hospitals (26%)
  • Outpatient adult and pediatric clinics (26%)
  • Elementary and secondary schools (12%)
  • Home healthcare facilities (9%)
  • Nursing care facilities (8%)

Classes will meet in PLNU’s new state-of-the-art College of Health Sciences campus at the Balboa Regional Center in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood of San Diego, California. 

Take a tour of PLNU's Balboa Regional Center, which offers state-of-the-art classroom, research, and fitness spaces for PLNU graduate students.

For more information about PLNU’s master’s in occupational therapy program, contact OT@pointloma.edu. You can also contact the occupational therapy program director, Beth Sullivan, OTR/L, OTD, at bsulliva@pointloma.edu.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2023 — August, 2023

Admission Requirements

Pre-requisite Courses:

  • One semester of each of the following, each course completed with a grade of a “B” or 3.0 or better:
    • Anatomy & Physiology I with lab (must be completed within the past 5 years)
    • Anatomy & Physiology II with lab (must be completed within the past 5 years)
  • One semester of each of the following; each course completed with a grade of a “B-” or better within the past 10 years. Courses can be taken online.
    • Psychology (3 units)
    • Abnormal Psychology (3 units)
    • Lifespan Development or Developmental Psychology (3 units)
    • Medical Terminology (at least 1 unit).
    • Statistics (in behavioral or social sciences, 3 units)
    • Sociology, Anthropology or Social Psychology (3 units)
    • These courses may be taken at any regionally accredited community, public, or private college or university. Online courses at regionally accredited colleges are also acceptable for psychology, sociology, anthropology, or statistics courses. Anatomy and physiology courses must be taken in face-to-face classroom settings.
  • You may have up to 6 credit hours of prerequisite courses in progress at the time of application to the program. If you are accepted into the program while currently enrolled in one to eight required prerequisite courses, you will be provisionally accepted. The provisional acceptance will be changed to full acceptance once transcripts are received that confirm successful completion of outstanding prerequisite courses that are aligned with the criteria above.
  • A maximum of 6 credit hours of prerequisites can be pending at the time of application, with the exception of A&P I and A&P II.

Grade Point Average (GPA):

  • Applicants must meet a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their most recent 60 semester units of work, including both graduate and undergraduate coursework.
  • Pre-requisite courses may only be repeated once; the second course grade will be used to calculate the average GPA.

Undergraduate Degree:

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited university.

Letters of Reference:

  • Three letters of reference (personal or professional) are required. You will be provided with the link on OTCAS.

Personal Statement:

  • Submit an essay answering the three following questions:
    • How have your past work, volunteer, or service experiences prepared you to become an occupational therapist?
    • Explain why you selected occupational therapy as a career and how an Occupational Therapy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals.
    • How has your faith impacted your decision to pursue occupational therapy?

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Early Determination Review:

  • The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) requires disclosure of all felony convictions. The results of this background check may impact eligibility for certification and licensure. If you are concerned about your eligibility due to past legal or mental health conditions, it is strongly advised to complete the NBCOT® early determination review process. Felony convictions may be resolved by the NBCOT®’s Qualifications Review Committee. For more information, refer to https://nbcot.org.

View the Complete Admission Requirements

Career Opportunities

Job Outlook for Occupational Therapists

More than 143,000 occupational therapists (OTs) are currently active in the U.S., and the job outlook is growing faster than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, the BLS reports the demand for occupational therapists will grow 16% between 2019 and 2029. As of 2020, occupational therapists made an average of $86,280 per year. 

Also, according to U.S. News & World Report, occupational therapy ranked in the top 10 healthcare jobs of 2021, as well as 31st in its “Best 100 Jobs List” and 10th in its “Best Healthcare Jobs List.”

The main responsibilities of occupational therapists include treating injured, sick, or disabled patients by reteaching and helping them complete everyday activities. They utilize intervention therapy, adaptive equipment (such as wheelchairs, eating aids, etc.), and teach basic skills (such as managing time, budgeting, etc.) in order to help their patients move and function on their own.  

Occupational therapists work with a variety of patients in many different places, including the classroom, work environments, and mental health settings. They also work with people of all ages, from infants to seniors.

Necessary attributes and skills of an Occupational Therapist:

  • Communication: Effectively ask the patient questions and educate the patient’s family and employer about necessary accommodations.
  • Organization: Develop complex treatment plans for patients that require high organizational skills.
  • Goal-oriented: Encourage patients as they work toward improvement, and work to implement treatment goals .
  • Active: Be physically fit in order to aid clients with various disabilities and effectively demonstrating exercises.
  • Strong writing skills: Be able to write quickly and practically to assess and record patients’ activities and progress.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Course List

The course list will be available soon. Please check back for more information. 

Department Faculty